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Friday, May 31, 2013

Curriculum Plans 10th grade 2013-14

The title says "plans" because we are known to "switch things up a bit" from time to time.

Wow! Come fall, we will have a Sophomore around the house! It doesn't seem all. This sweet young boy is growing into an amazing, caring young man.

A big History buff, he has already began to "scout" out colleges. He is very interested in Historical Preservation and Ancient History/Archaeology-primarily Biblical History and Archaeology. His dream would be to excavate in Israel! At one time he was leaning towards Pensacola Christian College, University of Kentucky, and now, "Ole Miss" has been thrown into the mix. The reason? He wants to stay close to Hope Church and he prefers University of Mississippi in Oxford, over Mississippi State in Starkville. He still has time, so we will see. 

It will soon be time for us to visit prospective colleges...and possibly take the PSAT this school year for practice. The Lord knows the plans that He has for Bryce, (Jeremiah 29:11), and whether that is college or not, we will see. But we are preparing. We have also tossed around the thought of dual enrollment in later years. Again, we will see. Proverbs 16:9~ A man's heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. (NKJV)


  • As a family, we will all be working through Foundations 1: Preparation for Christ, from foundations press. It is a multi-level curriculum and includes inductive study and study methods for the olders.
  • Both boys will continue with Boyhood and BeyondCreated for Work and Courageous Teens. My oldest already finished Do Hard Things and Start Here, but we may review it later on. We have some other read alouds that we may incorporate as well.
  • Notgrass World History~technically, this curriculum gives 1 full credit each in Bible, History and English. However, we prefer to have a family Bible time as well, so he will do both. Also, he will be using some supplements for the how, and to fine tune his writing.

English II (World Literature and Composition):
  • Notgrass as the "core". We are also throwing in Principles of Effective Communication and Writers, Inc. as needed for more of the "how" component.
  • Book selections for literature include: Julius Caesar (Shakespeare), The Imitation of Christ (Thomas a Kempis), Here I Stand (Roland Bainton), A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens), Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad), Eric Liddell: Pure Gold (David McCasland), Animal Farm (George Orwell), The Abolition of Man (CS Lewis), Mere Christianity (CS Lewis), Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen-squeal! I LOVE this book!), Pilgrim's Progress (John Bunyan-LOVE this one too!), The Cat of Bubastes (GA Henty), Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom-my mamaw's favorite!), and a book called In Their Words, from Notgrass, which has selections of original documents, short stories, poetry, etc. So excited about this one!!

  • Still under construction...wink wink. He finished Algebra I this year with Math U See and we were not really thrilled with the program, nor his retention with it. We used both Algebra I and Epsilon for his younger brother. His younger brother was never so happy to be done with a subject in all of his life (haha!). Neither was mama.
  • Health, counting as 1/2 credit. We are using the Total Health package from My Father's World, which includes a schedule. As a nurse, I love Health and I love the way this text reads. We have many other resources around here he will use as well.

  • Spanish I. His younger brother has worked some on Spanish and French both this year, so we plan to use Switched on Schoolhouse for all three of us. Yes! Mom too! Technically this says for 9th-12th, but I am going to let my 7th grader "try" it. 

  • Geology. My History/Archaeology loving son is going to be using LifePacs from Alpha Omega. We have used these for other subjects years ago, so we are familiar with this. This will count as 1/2 credit as well. We will also be using sources from Answers in Genesis to give it somewhat more of an Apologetic flair.

Lord willing, this will all work out and will give him 7 credits for the year. Much prayer, research, bad buys and advice have went into this year. We are a very eclectic and somewhat relaxed bunch. We believe in teaching our children to love learning and tend towards a somewhat delight-directed approach, letting them choose many things as we filter through them together.

Have you began planning for next year yet? With a probable move on the horizon this summer, we had to "get in gear" pretty early this year and packed each child's work for the year in baskets that we can just pick up and go with.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Homeschool High School? Yes You Can!!

Photo image courtesy of

When we first started homeschooling, we had a 7th grader and a 4th grader. It was only "temporary", right? We were being relocated temporarily for my husband's job and when that was over, life would return to normal, right? forward about two years. We were supposed to be back in our home state by now. An "extension" on our relocation has spread our time out another year and a half.

Each time I "made" plans, or worried about re-enrolling the kids in school, it seemed the Lord, (thankfully), had other plans. I didn't want to re-enroll them mid-year. EVER. The extension dates kept getting bumped so that IF and WHEN we would go back home, it would be after the school year had started. 

So, here we sit, finishing up our third year of homeschool. This year we had a 9th grader, 6th grader, Kindy, and Preschooler. Suddenly, homeschool became a lifestyle and very "normal" for us. I stopped planning for public or private school re-entry. I began to see this new life as a blessing.

Lately, I have been reading so many posts about moms who are afraid to continue to homeschool through high school. After all, that is when it "counts" right? WRONG. Each year counts. Teaching the early stages of reading and math, as we did in Kindy this year, "counts" too. We just don't need a Transcript for it. 

I was terrified for most of the year. 9th grade AND Kindergarten TOGETHER? AT THE SAME TIME? HOW? But then God....isn't that how it always goes?

  • Reminded me that it was He who called me to do this. Why should I fear? Why should I fear other's opinions, other's choice of education, and why should I fear "messing" my kids up? He gave them to me after all. I was seeking Him in homeschool. He who had called me, would do it: 1 Thessalonians 5:24.
  • My kids were learning in spite of me. They have a love for learning, and will find ways to learn all on their own, even after the fancy curriculum is put away.
  • I was stressing for nothing over credit hours. So many were required to count for credit, and exactly 5 hours beyond that was when I began to worry. That is when He reminded me that I had the hours--stop stressing and start enjoying
  • Every time I began to consider sending them back to school, another article would come across my feed about "new policies", "new curriculum", or some horrendous quote from our government about our children. God gave me this opportunity "for such a time as this." (LOVE the story of Esther!)
  • My kids would remind me that they WANTED to stay home and school. They were enjoying learning again without all of the negative issues at school.
  • "Socialization?" They are not dogs. Honestly-those of us that came from the public school system-think back. What KIND of socialization did you learn? Mainly from peers your own age? How to give a wedgie? How to talk bad about your parents? How to name call each other and bully the outsider? My kids are VERY social kids. God provided MANY opportunities with this move. Their "socialization" is, for the most part, very positive. They are just as active, if not more so, than they were in public school. They can "socialize" with people of all ages--from babies to the elderly--not just kids of their own age. They don't stare at their phone all day and completely ignore everyone around them. Of course, they aren't allowed smart phones until they are old enough to pay for them on their own. They teach ME a lot about socialization.
I just want to say today, that each and every time I worried about "how my kids were going to turn out", I was blessed and amazed by each one of them. Their kind and servant hearts towards others, not just their family. Prayers for mommy when she is feeling bad by my four year old. Close bond between ALL of the children, even though they are so spread apart in ages--14, 12, 5 and 4. They talk about the Lord and desire to know Him.

High school? It's just another year. Trust God to put your kids where HE wants them. Trust God to provide for your school. I know it's hard. Boy, do I know. God is trustworthy, but sometimes we get fearful. Am I there yet? Not all the way-I am a work in progress. But God has been so good and so patient, that day by day, I am learning to trust Him completely.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Prequel: Our Road to Homeschool and Year End Blessings

Where do I even begin? I reflected a little bit about the faithfulness of the Lord in our homeschool here, however it really struck me again today. We have enjoyed a blessed weekend with lots of family time. Today, as my husband and children were in the swimming pool, I was working on a Bible study. I got called away to get the youngest one-she has had a bellyache today and had an "accident". When I returned home and began to study, something really weighed on my heart.

I have been in an uncomfortable season, mentioned in several places on this blog. I have been clawing to get out. But, what if it's not about "getting out?" At least, not yet anyway? What if it's about so much more? If it's about learning so much more? If it's about trusting Him so much more?

We are wrapping our school year up around here, so of course I have been doing a lot of reflecting lately. Mainly on the negative. But it's like that still whisper in the back of my mind, reminding me of all the good that came out. In spite of me. Because of Him. Really, my mind wanders way back.

I started nursing school when my oldest two, (of my four), were really young. It was a full day's work, not to mention a part-time job at the hospital and doing clinicals for school-sometimes at night. My heart was torn. On one hand, I selfishly wanted to "accomplish" something for myself and build a career. On the other hand, I knew what all I was missing in the boy's lives and felt rotten. Yet, not bad enough that I didn't keep pushing on. That's when the heart problems started-not only physically, but spiritually as well. That's when the anxiety and depression kicked in and cranked up. Little did I know, I was being "called home" but was fighting it with every ounce of independent pride in me.

Fast forward-my husband and I wanted a third child, hopefully a little girl. We loved our boys so much, but wondered what it would be like to have a little girl. I was working all weekend on night shift, and my husband was working all week on night shift. We were like ships passing by. It is by God's grace alone that our marriage made it through those few tough years. Neither of us attended church, or had a real relationship with the Lord at this time-I just said a bedtime prayer with the boys, and occasionally, one myself.

God granted that desire of our heart, but it would take nearly two years for her to arrive. Arrive she did! I was induced and it was a scary delivery. She was struggling to breathe and a strange blue-black color. The OB doctor wasn't much help, as I heard her whisper "Should I call a code?" As a nurse, I KNEW what a code was. My child was in trouble! Thankfully, a Pediatrician was accidentally called when I was fully dilated instead of my OB, so he was already on the floor. Furthermore, the nurses took my girl from her and handled the situation. They really went to work on her and soon my baby girl was fine.

Life was wonderful for a little while, then it was back to work. At this time, I was serving as the Primary Weekend Charge Nurse and dabbling in other departments with my heart set on the ER. That would soon become a reality, as I stepped into working ER only. Then, working as needed in an ER in another hospital too. 

Surprise! I was pregnant again. Considered high risk with my last pregnancy, they took me in right away. An ultrasound was performed VERY early. TWINS!! Oh, wow!! However, Twin B was not near as big as Twin A and they were very cautious about telling me. I was to return for another ultrasound to monitor the situation. At the next ultrasound, I got to see two tiny heartbeats. However, Twin B was still lagging. A few short weeks later, we would receive the news that Baby B was no longer with us.

After our second daughter was born, things began to take a twist. We had a few issues with her, then I developed multiple post-partum issues, some that I still struggle with today, and problems would strike both of her brothers. That story starts here. 

Prior to those events, I began to ponder homeschooling in my heart. I had not heard much about it, and a lot of it was portrayed in a negative light. I said a simple prayer in the shower asking God about it, and prayed that if it was the right thing, that He would soften my husband's heart. 

Soon, it became apparent with all that was going on with my son, that work was going to be difficult at best. Scared to leave him, and after spending so much time at home, it began an inward battle that lasted about a year. Soon, my husband got offered a job to temporarily relocate to a new state to work on a new plant start-up. We pondered it for many months, and finally decided to go for it.

The issue? We would not only be leaving mid-school year, but we would return mid-school year as well. Homeschool "seemed" the best option at the time-only temporarily of course, (or so we thought). Suddenly, people came out of the woodwork at Toyota who homeschooled their kids. A connection between myself and another mom was made and she offered some advice. 

My oldest experienced some issues at his school and due to his medicines, story here, so we decided two days into the new school year that we should go ahead and homeschool him now. His brother would follow about four months later.

That first year was a little rocky-here we were entering a new phase of education coupled with a 500 mile move. But, God was faithful. The kids were learning so much and we were thriving as a family. We began to "get to know" each other in ways that we never had time for before. Stubbornly, I still tried to work at least a little during this period but it was miserable. I worked long nights in the ER, and still had to teach my kiddos. I was adamant that I would continue up until we left-we really needed the money anyway, right?

My loving boss at the time, a friend and the wife of our current pastor, knew things were hairy at home. She suggested that I go ahead and "take off" the next two months to prepare for our move. To finish out the schedule and then stay home. I was shocked and scared, but went forward with it.

May I just say as I reflect back to those early years, nearly three years ago, that I can see the Lord graciously going before me and taking care of everything? That when we moved, so many blessings came with it?

 I was reeling from some hurts at a church I grew up in. I was having trouble trusting "church people" and so called "friends". I didn't give up on Jesus, but I was ready to give up on church. I scouted the area down here before we moved searching for a church. The one we picked, we based it upon the name alone originally and the location-right down the street. The name? Ironically, (or not?), Hope Church! I read up on their belief statement and agreed. We began attending Sunday morning services.

Two years later, I sit in awe of the people in this church. It is a big church-I grew up in a teeny tiny church of less than 50 members. This place had attendees in the hundreds! However, each one got to know us. They took time to get to know us. They showed us the love of Jesus that I had never seen. We met HOMESCHOOLERS there!! Wow! My boys soon became involved in almost every volunteer opportunity they could and LOVE their youth group. They are taught the Word, just like on Sunday morning, have worship, and small groups/prayer groups. I was astonished. The youth pastor took his role as mentor seriously and lovingly encouraged, rebuked and instructed my boys. 

As I sit here and reflect, I am overwhelmed by the blessings. The Lord provided MORE than what my salary was, in bonuses at my husband's job in this new area, my husband came to have a new relationship with Christ, and we finally truly felt like we had a "church family". We are even homeschooling a HIGH SCHOOLER this!! My husband has a short commute to work, compared to HOURS at home. He was FINALLY on dayshift for a long period of time!

But, as I reflect over the blessings, there is a bittersweet air blowing. Yes, we miss our family-a lot. I have never been this far from my mama or my grandma. We are three months out from a tentatively scheduled move  back to Kentucky. There is a situation facing us in our home and lots of uncertainties. Services this past Sunday were bittersweet as I counted how many Sunday's we may have left in our precious church. At prayer time, I asked the Lord to bless each one of these people and thanked Him for bringing them into our paths. My husband and I both said that was the one thing that made this possible move back so difficult--leaving our church home.

I can now see, all along, how the Lord was blessing us and guiding us these last two years. While the last four seemed so difficult, I can clearly see He was there in the midst of it all. 

Homeschooling has become a way of life for us now. We never miss an opportunity to learn, if at all possible. However, learning takes different shapes for us than it did in the past. I see my boys growing and maturing into young men, taking on responsibilities and having such caring hearts. I see my girls as best friends, and growing and learning so much. Not just academics either. All four of them-their relationship with the Lord, with each other and with us. The academics are only a small part, but the Lord has really blessed us there as well. 

All I could do yesterday afternoon was thank Him for this time He has given me at home. The blessings of our church family and meeting other homeschoolers who love the Lord. The blessing of meeting some who have graduated their kiddos, and they are successful in their endeavors, (gasp). 

School doesn't just happen in a brick building, mama. Trust me, my kids are not that far out from the brick building. We had a lot of really great teachers and we are thankful for that, however in this season, I am thankful that I am able to learn alongside with them and develop an amazing bond with these 4 precious gifts from God. You can do this-with God ever by your side, you can do this. Even when the days run long and it seems all you do is discipline and correct them, you can do this. You will be amazed at what they are learning even if you DON'T have a "formal" curriculum. Most of our "great minds", came from a homeschooling background. Google it-I dare you! However, that is only a 'bonus' and not the reason for us. 

The reason? Proverbs 22:6~Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. (NKJV)

Do you homeschool? Have you looked back at your year yet? Share with us!

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Nourish Your Soul

"Why spend money on what is not bread, 
and your labor on what does not 
satisfy? Listen, listen to me,
and eat what is good, and your soul will delight
the richest of fare."
(Isaiah 55:2)

The Life Application summarizes these verses this way:
~Food costs money, lasts only a short time, and meets only physical needs. But God offers us free nourishment that feeds our soul. How do we get it? We come, listen, seek, and call on God. God's salvation is freely offered, but to nourish our souls we must eagerly receive it. We will starve spiritually without this food as surely as we will starve physically without our daily bread.

Couple reading parts of this chapter in Isaiah, along with the Breaking Free by Beth Moore study I am doing in my own time, and sermons from my Pastor the last few weeks, and I have learned so much about finding satisfaction in God alone. It is a recurring theme lately. One that I desire to "dig" into and remain in for a long time I pray.

Why do we toil about working hard for things that will perish, instead of working towards things that have eternal value? How will we worship God all day in Heaven, if we can't find time to spend with Him on this earth? Look at many of the Psalms-David laid bare his heart before the Lord. OFTEN. He speaks of talking with and being taught by God in the evening and the morning. This is how we gain wisdom. This is how we have a relationship with Him. This is how it was meant to be from the beginning--before the fall. Jesus opened that door, tore that veil, so we could enter into a real relationship with God. So that we could draw near in time of need, and find mercy and grace.

God is Jehovah-jireh, the Lord our provider. We are assured in Matthew 6:25-34, that we have no reason to worry. If we seek Him first, all of these other things will be added to us. He knows our every need. He knows our every worry. Yet, He tells us to seek Him first, and not to worry.

This goes against every instinct we have been taught in today's society. We have been taught to work first, plan first, then pray and ask God to bless whatever it is we are doing. Or throw up a few, "Can I have's?", and go on about our day.

We have a very personal God. Jesus was the Word made flesh.Matthew 1:23 gives us a VERY personal name for Him. Immanuel-which means "God with us." He walked amongst us. Now, through His death and resurrection, He lives within us through the gift of the Holy Spirit which we received when we first believed the good news of the Gospel. When we accepted His atoning sacrifice for our sins and made Him Lord of our lives.

Which is harder? To provide for our every need, or to provide an atoning sacrifice for every sin of every human in the world~while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8)? Why is it that so many of us, (guilty at times here so I am not pointing fingers), can believe God for salvation, but it is so hard for us to believe Him for the "little things"? To truly internalize Matthew 6:25-34 when He says that He takes care of the birds and the flowers of the field? We are the ones who sins had to be atoned for-not the birds and flowers. Yet He even takes care of those! 

How much more will He take care of the very creatures He died for? The ones who bare His image?

Friday, May 24, 2013

No Longer I...

I have been crucified with Christ;
 it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; 
and the life which I now live in the flesh 
I live by faith in the Son of God, 
who loved me and gave Himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20)

Recently, I took a self-imposed period of rest and renewal. Many storms going on in our lives left me weary and....well......burdened. I needed time to be a Mary instead of a Martha. I needed time to sit at His feet. I love and miss all of my friends and sisters at Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor, but I am slowly beginning to see the reason for this season of 'rest'. Ecclesiastes 3:1 assures us that there is a season for everything. This has been a troubling season to say the least.

During this time, I began a study-at my own pace and on my own time, of Breaking Free by Beth Moore. It is amazing all of the lessons that I have learned so far, and this is only Day 2 of Week 2! Still a long way to go!

Today's lesson was on our main purposes in this life: to know God and to make God known. Studying the Hebrew and Greek meanings of the word 'glory'. Basically, in Hebrew, it is how God shows who He is. In the Greek, it is the way He makes Himself recognizable.....He did that in Jesus. 

John 1:14~And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Isaiah 43:7 reminds us that we believers, who are called by His name, are created for His glory.

We are created to KNOW Him, and to make Him known. However, this is not by our pitiful efforts, no matter how hard we try. Rather, it is by His Spirit that lives within us. Christ living in me (Gal. 2:20)2 Corinthians 3:17-18 assures us that this process of transformation is performed from "glory to glory." It is not an overnight process, rather a life long following of our Lord Jesus. Letting the Holy Spirit lead us and guide us.

To me, this is like a breath of fresh air. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. Being around a lot of legalistic doctrine, some self-imposed, liberty and freedom in Christ were foreign words. These verses give me strength to know that , "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it" (Philippians 1:6).

What are you currently studying and/or learning in your walk? Share with us!

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Homeschool Grades~A Mosaic Review

Having one child in high school already, I was excited to review My Home School Grades, an online program which takes a lot of the stress out of tracking grades, classes, credits, and so much more....ALL IN ONE PLACE! You can use your own curriculum AND lesson plans, as well as your own grading scale. This program also provides you the ability to track extracurricular activities.

Here is a picture of my students screen, available after you log-in

As you can see, as soon as I log-in, I am able to not only see my son's GPA, (not current because I haven't put all of the grades in yet-we are finishing up our school year here), but I can also see how many credits he has so far.

There are several well known curriculum publishers already saved into the database to choose from, such as: Alpha Omega and Apologia to name a few. The company states that you can also request specific curriculum to be added. I have not done that, however, so I cannot state that as a factual experience for this reviewer. We are pretty eclectic around here, so that is difficult for us anyway. Abeka is a text that we used, and they are not included in the list.

There are many features to this site, not just Transcripts, although that is a big bonus. You can go in and add individual Lesson Plans for each child, which is a good thing if you need to keep track of that for your state. I prefer to use pencil and paper systems, as I am not on my laptop very often.

There are many informative videos on the website for you to get a true 'feel' for the program. 

The cost? $49.99 for a LIFETIME membership. Yes, I said LIFETIME. There is also a FREE two week trial available here

And yes....there ARE apps available for this!! You can even keep track on your smartphone or tablet.

This is a close-up view of the courses, credits and grades for the current year.

One of the 'cons' for us is that you are only able to keep track of a certain school year. For us considering a subject based vs. a traditional school year based transcript, this could possibly cause some issues and may make the high school years look 'lopsided'. That is the only con that I see. That, and I am more likely to keep track of things with pencil and paper. That said, I really may try to be more intentional in using this program. I can see a HUGE benefit with just pressing the print button and creating a Transcript.

Friday, May 17, 2013

On the Fence about Homeschooling?

Before I even begin this post, let me assure you that I am by no means an expert in the art of homeschooling. We are currently finishing our third year around here. I still search reviews, muddle through curriculum decisions and poor choices, and ask my 'mentors' a million questions I am, however, somewhat of an 'expert' on my own children--thanks to the good Lord above--and what I do and don't want their precious minds filled with. Cough-indoctrination-cough. I take seriously these words:

  • Proverbs 22:6~ Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. (NKJV)
  • Exodus 18:20~ And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. (NKJV)
  • Deuteronomy 6:7~ You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, and when you rise up. (NKJV)
You see, mama, the Lord gave you these precious children. Many of you cannot homeschool for financial reasons or others and I completely understand. Let me assure you, I didn't think I could either, and would never judge you (see our start here). However, I am thankful and blessed that not only has the Lord called me to do it, but He has blessed that effort, and carried us through every situation (that story is here). Even when I felt that I couldn't go on another moment. That I couldn't teach or discipline them one more moment, He stepped in and gave me strength. 2 Corinthians 12:9~ And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (NKJV)

The fruit from only three years? A close bond with all four of my kids. I KNOW them. A close bond BETWEEN the four of my kids, even though they are spread apart in ages--my boys are 12 and 14, my girls are 4 and 5. We learn together. We read and discuss our Bible together. We learn about God in Science, not just 'another theory' that changes three years later-we don't avoid those either, rather we use our Biblical 'lenses' to view them by. HE CREATED IT ALL. We learn about God in History--last year we did an amazing sweep through Ancient History, using the Bible as one of the main 'texts' for History with Heart of Dakota. They REALLY dug into the Old Testament and the New both--to see prophecy fulfilled and to 'see' Jesus in the Old Testament. My kids get to stay 'kids' for a little while longer-not worrying about who is allowed into the bathrooms with them, writing a sentence about giving up their constitutional rights, and learning about the socialistic agenda in Math. 

Best of all--they are coming to know God in a way that I never did at that age. My little girls amaze me. Even when they get a boo-boo and it heals, the say, "God healed it." Their childlike faith really inspires me. My 4 year old has had some issues with her eye. One day while flipping through her Children's Bible, she said, "I wish Jesus was still on earth so He could heal my eyes with mud." Wow.

It amazes me and humbles me that the Lord not only picked me for their mama, but that He always provides in our homeschool--even when I make the wrong choices. He redeems those. He carries us.

The 'learning' part? Well, both girls started writing at 3. The oldest started reading at 4. They can do a mean 'oral narration' or storytelling using pictures. The 5 year old STARTED they year doing simple addition, and now she can occasionally do some fractions. Geography? They got that down pretty good-where certain animals live, etc. The older boys? Same thing. They really seem to retain what they are learning. The 12 year old reads adult Christian fiction and inspiring biographies about Christian sports stars (he loves Basketball). No super formal writing program, but they can write a mean research and argumentative paper, as well as speech. I CANNOT keep them in books-I have had to acquire two additional bookshelves just to contain them. That brings our total to 5!! I DO NOT say this to brag--Math is awful around here--but rather to show you how the Lord provides for ME, a mama with a degree in Nursing, not Education, the ability and strength to teach my kids.

The most important part however, is their relationship to God, to their parents, and with each other. They have had numerous opportunities to serve in the church, guitar lessons, the Drama Team, and my oldest recently attended his first prom! Not a 'formal' public school prom, but one put on graciously by parents. They are surrounded with a loving community in our church-many whom are homeschoolers themselves.

I can't tell you what to do, but I can point you to the One who knows your heart. Who knows your kids and who loves all of you. Seek the Lord. 

I can say that it has been an enormous blessing in our lives. And the fun part? We go on awesome field trips whenever we want! Clearwater Aquarium, Battlefield sites, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, the beach--where we have seen/touched a live sand dollar, live starfish, and saw a dead jellyfish and sea turtle nests. Everyday, every moment is a learning opportunity for us. The girls studied a lot of ocean life last year and it was so amazing that they got to see it all LIVE to help the learning process. The 12 year old did some marine biology this year, so it helped him make connections too. It also helped us to 'avoid' the things we needed to avoid!!

If you are on the fence today sweet friend, seek the Lord. Call out to Him and ask Him to help you. To guide your path and to direct your steps. He is faithful to answer.

Have you considered homeschool? Do you currently homeschool? Share with us!

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Waterproof Bible!!~a Mosaic Review

I am absolutely thrilled to announce my review of this waterproof Bible available from Bardin Marsee Publishing! I am a Bibleholic and LOVE the crispness of a new Bible, but cherish and treasure my old ones. Highlighted, filled with notes from sermons and personal studies, also passages dated with prayers and studies. I thought I had almost every variety, (except a really cool Homeschool one and a Parallel translation), until I saw this beautiful Bible! Inside, however, I cringed. My mamaw NEVER lets you lay ANYTHING on a Bible--not even a piece of paper, so how was I supposed to 'test' this by immersing it in water? 

My little girls to the rescue!! They love their Bibles too, so it was really "cool" to them to be able to take it into the bathtub with them. They dunked it in a full tub of water, tried to read it, and just kept it in the warm water with them for the length of their bath. They were so excited to try this themselves.

The version that I chose to review was the King James Version. Long a beloved treasure in my formative years--I "cut my teeth" on the KJV, I was thrilled to see it offered. So few new editions of KJV or NKJV are available, as the popularity of other translations rise. However, it was the first Bible I was ever exposed to and therefore holds a special place in my heart.

The Basics:
  • The story behind the creation of this Bible is humbling. (See the Our Story tab on their page). They wanted to be able to take God's word everywhere, regardless of weather or circumstances. Just imagine this with me. Our military men and women? This Bible is safe WHEREVER they are. The Mission field? Regardless whether it takes the missionary to an icy kingdom, monsoon season, a rainforest or anything else--this Bible? Yeah, it goes too! What a tremendous impact. Not to mention that this Bible is small enough to fit into any knapsack or backpack. Think of the amount of Bibles that could be carried to others!
  • Translations offered: King James Version, New King James Version, ESV, NLT, NIV. Amazing! A Bible for almost every preferred translation! Once again, think about the impact this wonderful Bible could have!!
  • Prices vary depending upon the item you choose. For example-a full King James Version Bible is $44.95, while one with the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs is $24.95. Since this review is limited to the King James Version, those are the prices I quoted. Click here to choose your preference and see the price and other available items.
  • Dry highlighters are the preferred highlighters to use, as they will not 'rub' off. However, we used a 'liquid' one with success. (see picture below). And this was WHILE the Bible was still wet-not long after removal from the tub.

  • Ball point pens and pencils will also work the best. However, Sharpies, gel pens or roller ball pens will not work well because they need "paper" to absorb the liquid. The pages are slick and smooth to the touch, not the feel of a "traditional" Bible.

Above is a photo of the Bible drying. We just patted it with a towel, patted some of the pages, and then stood it on it's end with the pages fanned open to dry. However--even to have been immersed in a tub, there wasn't much water "running" anywhere! Sure, you could squeeze it and get some out of it but not NEAR what I thought there would be. The pages are truly amazing!

Completely dry in the above picture! This was a process of  a little over a day, but NEVER did the dampness distract from reading it. It didn't leak all over or seep, and you could still highlight even when it was wet!

I am absolutely amazed at this Bible! In a world where it seems like a new Bible or a new translation comes out nearly monthly, THIS Bible is one that I think is a MUST HAVE-especially for a mission minded family or someone serving in the Military. It would make a fabulous gift for someone--especially for those going overseas for mission work. No weather will stop God's word from being spread with this amazing Bible!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Gift Wrapped in God's Grace

Philippians 4:11-13: I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (NIV 84)

Most Mother's Day Sundays find us packed into church, willingly or not, to honor our mothers. They truly are a gift from God. Look in the Bible and you will find many moms who influenced their children--for good or bad. Many Mother's Day sermons tout the Proverbs 31 woman, or maybe the Titus 2 women--or maybe a mixture of both. Most of the time it is connected to mothers somehow.

This Sunday? Way different. You see, I have been inwardly struggling with many things for a while now. Many months. Seeking answers in the wrong places. This week, the Lord graciously answered some questions not only in my personal time with Him, but in a sermon. On Mother's Day. That really had nothing at all to do with mothers. Or did it? It sure did impact this one.

Our pastor expounded on Philippians 4:11-13 and 'Contentment'. We have been following a sermon series over a few weeks, titled "Family Matters." Little did I know that when I prayed for the Lord to open my ears and my heart to receive the message, that I would be weeping by the end of it. On Mother's Day--did I mention that? 

Written and dated 3/1/13, beside these very verses, was a prayer that I had prayed. "I pray to know this secret too." Well...that prayer was about to be answered. A Mother's Day gift from MY Father. It wasn't found in a book, in medicine, or even in a person, although I thank God for all of my blessings. My family, my friends, and my church family mean the world to me. Rather, it was found in the message and person of Jesus Christ.

As many of you know by my previous posts, this has been a tough 4 years. This week, after twisting my knee, I have had way too much time to think. But I have also had time to seek the Lord like I haven't for a long time. It took a crippling to get me to still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10). Sad state of affairs, no? 

A friend sent me a message the night before my accident, about Psalm 23. The message included a story about the dangers that sheep unknowingly put themselves into. They will literally walk off a cliff while they are grazing--too busy focusing on the food. The message also included a story of how one sheep literally strayed into danger so many times that the shepherd had to break it's leg, then graciously placed it into his garment, to keep it safe. Whoa! Please don't send me anymore messages like that....kidding!! 

Pastor expounded on the verses with such depth that it literally took my breath away. Learned, in verse 11, literally means to be "initiated into the secret". Paul had to receive some action in order to learn. Then, he brought up another favorite verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9. How Paul had sought the Lord three times over an ailment, and how the Lord had told him that His grace was enough (sufficient). Looking at the life of Paul, and realizing that he was writing Philippians while in chains in prison, we see that he didn't 'learn' the easy way. He had a hard life, but a life FULL of God's grace, provision, blessing and mercy.

Moving on in that same verse, Pastor said that content meant a "self-sufficiency not dependent on external resources." It had more to do with our "internal resources"--Christ. Our inner relationship with God.

In that same sermon, he asked a question that had been posed to me several weeks earlier in a conference call that I was a guest speaker for with Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor. "Is Jesus enough?" Not really understanding the implication at the time of that call, I would be reminded a few short weeks later.

By the end of the service, I was weeping. Weeping over what all I had put above my relationship with Jesus. Everything that I put above God. All of the idols I had created. THOSE were the cause of my stress. I had walked away from my relationship with Jesus and was relying on MY strength to "do the job". I focused on the storm, and not the Savior; the healing and not the Healer. Our loving God reached down and broke down those walls within me. He restored me. He:

"makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." (Psalm 23:2-3)

Philippians 4:13 doesn't assure me superhuman strength or the ability to complete ALL that I set out to do. It does, however, assure me that my strength lies in Christ alone, and that He will strengthen me for whatever He has called me to do. Not what my plans are. His plans. According to Jeremiah 29:11, those plans are good.

The best Mother's Day gift ever? Wrapped in a sermon full of answers to my questions that He didn't have to answer. Chastisement wrapped in comfort and healing. For that, I am forever thankful. And the answer? That yes, Jesus IS enough.

Isaiah 30:15~ Only in returning to Me and waiting for Me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Having a Hannah Moment

In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.
1 Samuel 1:10 (NIV 84)

Chapter 5 of Stressed-Less Living, a study we are currently working on at our online Bible study, has impacted me far more than I realized. No, it isn't because I didn't think I 'needed' this study-my life is full of stress-but rather because I was un-open to fully allowing the Lord to speak to me during this study. My heart was divided. My soul was restless. I had way too much on my 'to do' list-a self created nightmare of what I wanted to do, not what the Lord wanted to do.

Today, I broke. I wept and prayed bitterly before the Lord. Not bitter at Him, but bitter at myself. Bitter for trying to run the show. Bitter for trying to go ahead of Him and heal in 'my own way'. Tears washed down my face as I realized that I was prostrate before a Holy God who only has my best interest at heart. Who has told me what He requires of me. Who has told me that I need to rest. Who has allowed multiple circumstances to sweep over me at an almost overwhelming pace. Who, when I prayed, "Lord, I need to hear from you!", sent my children surrounding my bed with words of comfort. "God is with you mama." "Look at what is beside you"-my prayer journal with a picture of Jesus on the cover. They had no idea what my prayer was at that point, but God sent His love in the form of my children. I wept again, "Why, Lord? I don't deserve this grace. Why are you showing me so much grace?"

Today, I related so much to the section titled, "When God Seems Absent." She began weaving the beautiful story of Hannah and bringing so many truths into my life and my current situation. 
  • p. 94~"She was tired of feeling ashamed, broken, empty-hearted, and empty-handed."
  • p,94-95~ "I bet she tried to stay focused on her blessings rather than being consumed with yearning for the blessings she had yet to receive. I can also imagine how helpless she felt to remedy this problem. All of these things combined most likely ushered her into a deep pit of hopelessness, where peace escaped her."~oh yes. I try to remember my blessings and stop dwelling on the 'not knowns' right now. There are many breathing down our neck at this moment and I don't know what to do. There is nothing I CAN do. I, too, feel helpless.
  • p.95~"however, on this particular day, she was so desperate for God's intervention that she dropped to her knees and poured out her entire heart. She held nothing back and laid all of her feelings and emotions at his feet. She was ready to take back her life, lay down her stress, and accept whatever plan God had for her."~YES! That was me today friend. The last few weeks, things have slowly been spiraling out of control in my innermost thoughts and endless need for planning. There is nothing I can do. I don't like feeling helpless. I don't like feeling out of control. What am I supposed to learn here?
So, today, I cried out. I cried out for Him to teach me how to rest. I cried out to know His presence. I let Him know my fears, my failures, and my weakness....even though He already knows. 

Exodus 33:14~ The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (NIV 84)
Exodus 33:17~ And the LORD said to Moses, "I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and know you by name."
Lord, let it be so. Teach me your ways.

Jennifer Newsom
OBS Teaching/Executive Team

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Rest in Him Alone

Rest~ An instance or period of relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity. Peace of mind or spirit. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

REST. A word oft spoken to me lately. Silently. Almost a easy to say, "Yes...but!!" As a busy homeschool mama to 4 precious blessings, a wife to the greatest guy on earth, (sorry ladies), a blogger, a dreamer, and an Executive/Teaching Team member of a precious group of amazing women over at Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor, my days can get hectic sometimes. The day isn't so hectic as much as it isn't well planned. As in I don't take nearly enough time to listen for or listen to that still, small voice. Until.....the bottom falls out. For those of you who have read my fell out again.

This time it started with a rush to get my brood ready and out the door for a last minute doctors appointment for my daughter. She sounded croupy again this morning, and it was only 2 months and 2 days past this scary event, so it was imperative that I get her there before he left the office at noon and wouldn't be back in until Monday. In my clumsiness and hurry, I tripped on a pair of shoes and twisted my knee and leg. So, here I sit, AGAIN, confined to rest......and wearing a 30 day heart monitor for MANY of the symptoms Tracie describes in Stressed-Less Living. Go figure. 

A huge wave of peace swept over me as I read not only this verse, but many of those that surround it. First, look at this verse:
  • His PRESENCE will go WITH me and HE WILL give me rest. (personalizing it, of course). I need not fear...He is with me and it is He who gives me rest. I particularly like the second definition I listed above--peace of mind and spirit. We have had a rocky four years around here and I am in desperate need of peace....mind and spirit. 
As I perused verses 12-13, I began to notice more. The Lord knew Moses by name--he belonged to Him. Then, the amazing humility of Moses, "If you are pleased with me, TEACH me your ways so I may KNOW you and continue to find favor with you. REMEMBER that this nation is your people." (caps mine).

Right then and there I stopped to pray. I didn't want to be disobedient to the Lord, like we see the Israelites doing in the previous verses. I want Him to teach me HIS ways. Not mine. To TEACH me how to rest. To TEACH me how to speak to His people.......I blog often and am on the OBS Teaching Team. I don't want it to be my words, but His. They are HIS people.

The Life Application Bible has something interesting to say about another verse that captured my attention.

  • Exodus 33:17~ And the LORD said to Moses, "I will do the very thing you asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name." (NIV 84)
  • The Life App says this (puts other verses in with this one)~ Moses wanted assurance of God's presence and desired to know that presence experientially. 
If I look again at verse 14, and it says that His presence will go with me and give me rest...then I put it in context with humbly asking the Lord to teach me His ways...well, we see His reply to Moses. According to a commentary I was reading, it said: In contrast with the strained relationship between Israel and the LORD, Moses experienced intimacy with Him. Regardless of anyone else's relationship with Him, we can experience the 'friendship' with Him that Moses had.

Rest comes when we experience His presence. When we experience a true, intimate, loving relationship with our Father...our God....our LORD....we will find rest. In fact, He will give us that rest. It isn't about doing more or being more....rather, it's about Him. It's all about Him. It will always be about Him. It SHOULD always be about Him.

 Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:29, to learn from Him and we will find REST for our souls.
Psalm 62:1-2 tells us where our rest comes from.

Praying for us as we journey towards rest.....may He bless each of you with His presence and His rest. I leave you with a song from Psalm 62.

Jennifer Newsom
OBS Executive/Teaching Team

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